You don’t see many ODs with LOVE and HATE tattooed on their knuckles these days, although that was very trendy in the ’60s and ’70s. As the ’80s blew by, ODs stuck with trends that mattered: turtleneck dickies and white short-sleeved jackets.
The search for new trends began once someone decided contact lenses shouldn’t feel like shards of glass; thus began the era of soft, comfortable lenses—full of bacteria.
But what’s trending now, and what about tomorrow? All by myself, I’ve determined:
The Top Current and Future Trends in Our Profession
1. Casual Fridays, invented by Happy Hour Thursdays, have evolved into Dress Like a Bum Weekdays. Soon, trendy ODs will make weekends an adventure with Speedo Saturdays.
2. With ophthalmoscopes in hand, optometrists were always breathing on patients, creating the chief complaint, “My eyes are only irritated when you breathe on them.” We started eating sugary mints all day, and on the horizon is a trend toward toothless ODs.
3. We used to put engineers in trifocals for better midrange vision. Progressive addition lenses gave them a reason to gripe about their midrange vision again. In the future, we will remind them that engineers have developed every lens design in history, so it’s their own fault.
4. Every little town used to have one optometrist, who brought in some young whippersnapper, who became the one optometrist who brought in another young whippersnapper and, well, you get the trend. In the future, some eyeball testing robot controlled by an evil vision plan monster will need new batteries. Or is that the trend already?
5. Doctors used to refer to the staff as “the girls.” We learned that was stupid and chauvinistic and instead referred to them as “the staff.” Clever. Now, the girls ARE the doctors and they refer to the staff as “boys, quit texting and finish those recalls!”
6. First came retinoscopy; then came autorefractors, which couldn’t tell an astigmat from an anteater. Soon, laser-guided refractive tracers will produce so much data that once the doctor analyzes 42 pages, the patient will receive the most precise pair of glasses they will ever have remade three times.
7. You used to refer patients to the best ophthalmologist with the crappiest personality. Comanagement became the gold standard, as ophthalmologists realized they knew less about vision than the local shoe repair guy. Soon, they will fight to the death for your referrals using flaming punctal plugs.
8. There was an early trend (I’m not lying) that the exam was free and patients only paid for glasses. Thankfully, this has evolved into something very different; after your free exam now, you buy two pairs for less than the price of one!
9. The local optometrist used to see patients at church on Sunday. Then he ran into them at the Rolling Stones concert. Church now sounds like a Rolling Stones concert, we go online to watch it and just delete one another.10. Optometrists actually used to be in the room turning little dials on devices called phoropters. ODs now delegate this to others, but in the future, patients will decide they want to see through their glasses again. You can prepare for the once-dreaded Phoropter Finger by using rotary phones and counting to two. Gotta be trendy.